Nicosia, October 14, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
Cyprus, an EU member state with a most unique geographical location, rich historical and cultural heritage, and strong experience in providing financial services, can be an active player in promoting the values of the Silk Road Initiative, President Nicos Anastasiades said in his address to the conference of Asian political parties on a “New View of the Silk Road: Action for Common Development.”
In this respect, he told his audience in Beijing, “we stand ready to cooperate closely with our Chinese, Asian and European partners in effectively supporting this Initiative.”
Cyprus, he pointed out, having one of the largest maritime registry in the world, is considered today to be an important international shipping player and has the third largest fleet within the European Union with a percentage of over 12% of the total fleet of the 28 EU member states.
Lying at the crossroads of Africa, Asia and Europe, Cyprus is a key transit island of the Silk Road Maritime Trade Routes, and can play an important role in successfully promoting the aims and values of the Silk Maritime Road, he added, noting that every day, vessels flying the Cypriot flag are connecting Asia and Europe in a continuous process of promoting Asia-Europe cooperation. Cyprus is indeed a credible international business centre.
The President thanked sincerely the Government of the People’s Republic and the Communist Party of China for the invitation extended to him, and congratulate them on organizing this Special Conference. Anastasiades, according to an official press release, is the only head of state among the 28 EU members to be addressing the conference.
“My presence here today acquires additional significance for yet another reason: as the only Head of State from the European Union invited to participate in the Conference, I feel particularly obliged to express my deep gratitude to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for this unique opportunity to highlight the special and important role that European countries can play in the Silk Road initiative,” the President said, noting that his presence in Beijing also coincides with the 66th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, to which he expressed sincere congratulations and best wishes, prosperity, progress and every success.
Noting that China has, since WW II, succeeded in evolving into one of the world`s largest economies and has become a global player, he said that “today, in the midst of a weak recovery of the global economy, as well as complex international and regional developments, China is leading the “One Belt and One Road” initiative, with the aim of promoting regional economic cooperation, strengthening exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations, and promoting world peace and development.”
The One Belt One Road Initiative, based on the re-inauguration of the ancient routes that connected Asia and Europe two thousand years ago, aims to create socio-economic development as well as conditions for better education and sustainable environment along the route, he added, explaining that the plan involves more than 60 countries representing a third of the world’s total economy.
It aims to enhance the cooperation on trade and investment fields and in the fields of technology and innovation by establishing rail networks, transport facilities and maritime infrastructure. Moreover, the Belt and Road Initiative follows the universal principle of respecting sovereignty and non-interference in others’ internal affairs and encourages national, sub-regional and trans-regional initiatives.
“The Silk Road Initiative, quite ambitious as it is, covers a geographical region that stretches from East Asia to Europe, seeking to create a mutually beneficial framework, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and the European economic circle at the other. This will create a win-win situation for all countries involved – countries with different political, socio-economic and cultural background – promoting peace and economic development. Above all, it entails the practical application of connectivity,” the President said in his address to the conference.
In this context, he said, Cyprus believes that the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), a process of dialogue and cooperation that brings together European and Asian countries, has a very substantial role to play in promoting the development of the cooperation of the two regions, by using its existing mechanisms to push forward the realization of the Belt and Road initiative, essentially by institutionalizing the aims that are entailed in the One Belt One Road Initiative.
In view of the fact that the EU and China enjoy one of the world’s biggest and most dynamic trade relationships, Europe stands ready to benefit greatly from the Belt and Road initiative, he said. “There is indeed a great potential, space and momentum for further, enhanced cooperation.”
As part of the “One Belt, One Road” development strategy, a decisive step has been taken with the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution focused on supporting infrastructure construction in the Asia-Pacific region.
The fact that fifty-seven (57) countries have applied to join the AIIB as founding members shows the high importance of this multilateral development bank for the region, he said. In this regard, Cyprus, recognizing the importance and the scope of this initiative, has already applied to become a regional member of the Bank. Cyprus, he stressed, “welcomes any initiative that promotes cooperation, progress, peace and stability, and we express our readiness to contribute to this end.”